What is Cervical Spine X-Ray?
A cervical spine (neck) X-ray is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of unexplained pain and discomfort in the neck area in a non-invasive manner.
This scan is also known as C-Spine Imaging, Neck X-Ray, XR Cervical Spine, AP Cervical Spine, and Lateral Cervical Spine.
In this scan, multiple images of the bones and soft tissues in the back of the neck or cervical spine are generated. Generally, the images of the cervical spine are taken in three different positions—one from the front with a closed mouth (anterior-posterior or AP view), another from the front with an open mouth (odontoid view), and one from the side (lateral view).
Cervical spine X-ray is mainly useful in emergency diagnosis and treatment because it is a quick and easy scan. It helps doctors in assessing the level of injury to the neck after an accident and in detecting infections, tumors, or other abnormalities in the neck bones.
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Who Should Get a Cervical Spine X-Ray?
Your doctor may recommend a cervical spine X-ray if you have:
- Experienced an acute trauma or injury to your neck area.
- Severe pain in the neck
- Persistent pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
What is the Purpose of a Cervical Spine X-Ray?
A cervical spine X-ray will help your doctor:
- Evaluate unusual pain in the neck area with uncommon symptoms.
- Detect fractures or broken bones in the cervical spine.
- Examine dislocation of the joints in the neck.
- Detect swelling in the throat.
- Check the thinning of the neck bones because of osteoporosis (a condition in which bones become brittle and weak).
- Detect infections, cysts, or bone tumors of the cervical spine.
- Look for abnormal growths on the cervical spine bones (bone spurs).
- Check changes in the neck joints due to age-related wear and tear (cervical spondylosis).
- Detect birth defects of the cervical spine.
- Help plan neck or cervical spine surgery.
- Monitor the changes in the neck after an operation done within the past 10 years.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Cervical Spine MRI (Neck) to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the neck area. Your doctor may even recommend the Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) and Calcium tests to check the status of your metabolism and measure the level of calcium in your blood. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How is a Cervical Spine X-Ray Performed?
- Before starting the cervical spine X-ray, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- A technologist will ask you to lie down on your back on a special radiology table.
- The X-ray machine will be placed in front of your neck, while a specialized plate containing the X-ray film will be positioned behind it.
- The X-ray machine will then send a beam of X-ray radiation through your neck and will take an image that will be displayed on a monitor.
- The technologist will then ask you to lie in a different position to obtain the necessary view and will again take an image. This process will be repeated until all the necessary views have been obtained.
- At certain points during the scan, the technologist will ask you to sit still and hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
How Long Does a Cervical Spine X-Ray Take?
A Cervical Spine X-ray is usually completed within 15 minutes, but the actual exposure time to radiation is usually less than a second.
Is Radiation Involved in a Cervical Spine X-Ray?
Yes. An X-ray is an imaging test that involves a small amount of radiation to show images of the organs, tissues, and bones of the body.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Cervical Spine X-Ray?
- The risk for radiation exposure is low in a single X-ray. However, the effect of radiation and the risk of developing cancer due to radiation increases with every X-ray a person gets.
- Developing babies are sensitive to radiation and are at more risk, so women should inform their doctors and the X-ray technicians if they are pregnant.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the Cervical Spine X-ray is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Cervical Spine X-Ray?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.